COLUMBIA — Clemson easily defeated South Carolina, 12-2, in the final game of their 2009 baseball series, winning on a perfect Wednesday night before a standing-room-only crowd of 8,212 at brand new Carolina Stadium.
But soon a Gamecocks-Tigers baseball game could be bigger, better and a lot more fun, if people in charge at both athletic departments get together and start thinking properly big.
I mean, bigger than Susan Boyle.
The sport is so popular among fans at Clemson and South Carolina, one school or the other (or both) should start planning for a rivalry baseball game in a football stadium.
Passion plus tradition plus high-level competition in a baseball-mad state equals a crowd that would break the college baseball record of 40,106 set in 2004 by San Diego State and Houston at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.
Jack Leggett isn't so sure.
"I don't know if you could do it," the Clemson head coach said. "You would have to put in a whole new grass infield. Is there room for a baseball field? Do we have the grounds crew, or do they? It would be wild."
Clemson baseball star/quarterback Kyle Parker has a unique perspective.
"The fans are just passionate about baseball in this state. It could be a really big game," Parker said after a win and a three-run homer. "It's definitely taken real seriously on both sides."
40,106 or more
Death Valley logistics?
Williams-Brice Stadium dimensions?
It can be done. Just follow the example the Los Angeles Dodgers set last spring in playing host to the Boston Red Sox in an exhibition game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a "football only" facility the University of Southern California calls home. Home plate was in the corner of an end zone. There was no problem with right field and center field.
OK, so the left-field foul pole was just 201 feet away from home plate, a little shorter than the 325 feet at Carolina Stadium. But the Dodgers put up a temporary 60-foot screen and in Boston's 7-4 win the only "cheap" home runs were hit by Kevin Youkilis and Kevin Cash of the Red Sox.
If it worked at one USC, it will work at another.
"I'm for it," South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said. "I've thought about it before, if we went after something like that. I think we could get 25,000 or 30,000."
Tanner was informed of the 40,106 record.
"Well, we should probably go after 41,000," Tanner said.
"Maybe if we had something like an Atlanta Braves stadium here in the state of South Carolina," Leggett said.
Sure beats Greenville
Next year, the series shrinks to three games: One in Clemson, one in Columbia and one in Greenville, of all ridiculous places.
Work with me.
We're missing a whopper of an opportunity here.
Record-setting. Unprecedented. Smell the peanuts. Taste the noise.
A fat homegrown stimulus package for both cash-strapped schools, too.
Sure, Gamecocks fans have a great time cheering from the Bi-Lo Berm at Carolina Stadium, and it was somewhat interesting Wednesday night watching garnet-clad people give Clemson relief pitchers the business from a walkway hanging over the visitors' bullpen.
But imagine the roar at Williams-Brice Stadium and/or Death Valley?
It makes a lot more sense than Greenville.
It's at least worth a try.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5593.